Students with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities

Unfortunately, there are a lot of students that have problems with this neurological disorder. To fully understand what their main problems are and how can we help them, we need to learn how to recognize this problem and its indication.

Don’t get confused by the name of this syndrome, disabled students which have NLD not only have no problem in interpretation of the written or spoken word, they depend only on their understanding of it. These students have a great problem to incorporate non verbal signs into their understanding. Showing little or no flexibility in comprehending data which is not verbal in nature, they use their definite translation of a word or sentence ignoring other clues or signs. This eventually results in these students being unable to understand a conversation, or understanding it but being unable to develop a convenient response.

Students with NLD have great difficulties implementing any kind of nonverbal signs in their understanding of the conversation; they can’t understand movement of their conversation partner, his eye contact, his emotional response, his tone of voice and facial expression or any kind of experiential information that people without this syndrome have. These problems in communication often leave students with NLD with no concrete response, since they can’t perceive this information in a correct way.

This will eventually lead to misunderstanding with their conversation partner, making social contact with anyone a big challenge for these students. Although these students tend to speak a lot, with great volume, their sentences have redundant details ; their conversation doesn’t emotionally connect with the audience, their response don’t satisfy interests or needs of the audience, since they can’t figure them out. Here are some examples that are usually true about students with NLD:

  • They have a rich vocabulary and talk a lot but in the end say very little crucial information
  • They say ‘’the flowers’’, not ‘’the garden’’
  • They spend their time focusing on small details, ignoring the big picture and usually missing the main idea of the conversation
  • They can’t read facial expressions of other people and miss gesture or subtle signs of body language
  • Their social interaction may be considered awkward or inappropriate most of the time
  • They don’t have a lot of friends; their friends are usually older or younger than they are, not being able to socialize with their age group
  • When processing information they tend to do it in a continuous, linear way, not being able to examine it from the other points of the view, although they have a good memory of the words or phrase order in the sentence.
  • When faced with great pressure to behave or perform they will ‘’shut down’’. That might happen because they feel people expect from them too much; they can’t perform at that speed and tasks look to complicated and complex for them to finished them
  • As adults they usually end up doing worse job than they should, in regard to their educational experience.

We would like to reach out to people and help these young students to overcome their problems and fulfill their lives with enjoyment and social connections.  We are certain that these young people are ambitious to learn how to make the best of their capabilities, so we would be glad to help them out. With the help from all of us these students can achieve their goals and break the boundaries set to them by this problem that shouldn’t be neglected. Here are some tips and advice on how to help these students:

  • If they have problems interpreting or understanding a sentence, take time to explain to them what you meant.
  • Try to provide a verbal explanation for a nonverbal concept they can’t comprehend
  • Teach them to recognize some basic gestures or facial expressions and to try to react accordingly
  • Keep an eye on their communication understanding and show them how to ask questions that will help them simplify their conversation for better understanding
  • Teach them how to read the subtle or not so subtle clues from other that they are talking too much or that communication is not effective in any other way
  • Help them overcome their problems with cause-effect relationships – teach them how to spot them and anticipate their connection so they won’t have problems with this later in life
  • Since their weakness is unverbal in nature, teach them to rely on their strength. Practice with this individual how to set goals for the future and what actions are needed to accomplish them. Encourage them to make plans and praise themselves for achieving the desired goals.
  • Foresee the situations that this individual could have problems with. Practice with him situations like that, teaching him how to react and make the best out of them. Teach him how to be prepared for those situations and already have an adjusted answer. Make a situation where you know he will have problems with and try to practice it.
  • These students have a hard time connecting with others, so you should explain to them that this problem is not without out a solution and that with practice and hard work they will be able to improve their skills and have a normal social life.

Using these tips we can make an effort to help these students and make their life easier. They will need to put a lot of time and effort to improve and understand the problems they have, but the fruits of their labor that can be used later in their life and will be worth their time spent. We hope this article will help in raising everyone’s awareness about the problems of these students and help them take a big step to leading a quality life and making new social contacts and friends.

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